"Valraven: The Chronicles of Blood and Iron" is the new work by Alberto Tronchi for The World Anvil and Black Box for the Monad Echo system. A Quickstart has recently been made available, to let players discover the setting and show its potential. Several times we talked about how this type of document should be written, what elements should be present or absent, and congratulations for the excellent work of the entire production team.
The war has been going on relentlessly for over seventy years, involving the Erenwald Empire and the Republic of Dormas in a fratricidal clash that has now even forgotten why it was born. While the Sacred Church of Light brings support to both ontendants in search of fertile ground where to sprout the seed of faith, from the far East the mysterious Darokar land on the coasts ready to set every sign of civilization on fire. Many innocent people live and suffer under the yoke of one or the other faction, bent by a fury that knows no mercy and finds outlet in the dark and secret aims of the Hand on the Abyss: a lewd and demonic force ready to grab those who are so desperate to sell your soul.Quickstart introduction
From the first words of this Quickstart it is very clear and commendable that the game wants to bring us to live an experience that strongly recalls titles such as Berserk or Dragon Age. There are all the themes of the "Golden Age" of the first title: two forces at war, an oppressive Church and the cult of darkness acting in the shadows. The fact that the players are more or less invited to play soldiers of fortune, belonging to an army or to a company of mercenaries, only reinforces this idea.
A world that lends itself to various themes
One of the elements that strikes from the first pages of Valraven's Quickstart is the wide possibility offered by the setting. There are several "fronts" and "struggles" that can be dealt with for one-shots or campaigns. Nothing prevents then to start, just like in Berserk, a campaign based on the war between human beings and then move it on the fight against darkness and the Apostles.
Particularly fascinating are the "Great North", an indomitable land too rigid to be bent by the will of men, and the "World of Spirits", a set of dimensions from which it is much better to stay away. The presence of a “barbarian” invasion force represents another explorable front.
A lean game system
The Monad Echo briefly presented in this Quickstart is light and very fast, able to not embalm the session during the dice rolls. However, the criticisms of this presentation of Valraven are all concentrated here, since the rules are explained in a rough, at times confused, and do not seem to offer the master special tools to go on with the narration. In this sense, I suggest reading the way PBTAs are written, which share some concepts with the Monad Echo.
On the other hand, it is appreciable to have everything managed with two types of shots, avoiding the master to pick up the dice (d6). The choice of the dice is also commendable, as it tries to meet the widest possible audience.
The Valraven project
In the first pages of the Quickstart there is a clear explanation of the Valraven project, which we report here very briefly. The final manual will be created following a Kickstarter campaign and will contain:
- All the rules of Monad Echo with a rich section dedicated to the Master of Chronicles and game management.
- A comprehensive overview of the world of Valraven, the Factions vying for control and the places your mercenary company can visit and conquer.
- Eight Roles available to create Characters with, with specific Gifts and detailed rules on Arts of War and Ties to each protagonist's dark past.
- Rules to manage troops of men and different scales of conflict and to detail the other components of the Company directly in game.
- The Way of Perdition: a system dedicated to highlighting the slow descent into pain which, over time, will put the soul of the Characters to the test.
- Two Session management systems (campaign or mission) to manage each style of play and allow you to focus only on what you find interesting.
"The Destiny of Widmar" is an introductory scenario that offers a good replay value, primarily due to the presence of narrative crossroads, second to test the limits of the system and characters. The Quickstart already provides the pre-generated to face the one-shot and reading the card the players will have curiosity to find out more about the system that they will find in the final manual of Valraven. Depending on the groups and their harmony, the one-shot can be very fast or very slow, and certainly could lend itself well as an incipit for a much longer campaign.
Who is it recommended for?
"Valraven: The Chronicles of Blood and Iron" is recommended to all lovers of role-playing games with themes similar to those of Berserk, therefore the crudeness of war, the relationship between human and monstrous, the darkness inside the heart of each , etc…
Assuming that we will have to wait for the release of the Kickstarter and the final manual to be able to evaluate the product in its entirety, we can easily say that Valraven is a title to keep an eye on, as it can offer a quick and lean approach to a world dark and full of possibilities.
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